Nazi hunter slams Latvian Holocaust parade

Efraim Zuroff

Efraim Zuroff

The world’s most prominent Nazi hunter has condemned Latvian officials for allowing an event commemorating the Nazi invasion of Riga to go ahead.

Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel, criticised the refusal by a Latvian court to call off the procession on July 1 as an “outrage”.

Mr Zuroff said: "To celebrate the anniversary is to celebrate the mass murder of all those victimised by the Nazis in Latvia -- primarily Jews, but also Communists, Gypsies and the mentally ill.”

The American-born activist has dedicated his life to finding unprosecuted Holocaust war criminals and bringing them to justice.

He called on “saner minds” to challenge the decision, which saw a previous city council ruling prohibiting the march reversed.

The event has been planned to mark 69 years since Nazi troops ousted the Soviet red Army and entered the Latvian capital. The invasion led to the capture and murder of some 75000 Jews.

The decision to allow the march to proceed comes just days before an official Holoacust memorial visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to visit.

The Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said he was "puzzled and upset" the march would not be banned.

Mr Dombrovskis said: "The Latvian government respects human rights guaranteed by the constitution and the court's independence, but freedom of expression cannot extend to Nazi propaganda.”

Every March a parade is held in the country for veterans of the Latvian Legion of the SS, which was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders in 1943.

The Conservative Party in Britain came under fire this year for being aligned in Europe with the group who organise it.

Last updated: 5:03pm, June 30 2010